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France detains soccer great Platini in 2022 World Cup probe

By John Leicester and Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — French police investigating whether corruption played a role in the stunning decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar took 1980s soccer superstar and former top executive Michel Platini into custody Tuesday for questioning. Platini's representatives denied any wrongdoing on his part, saying he is "absolutely confident in the future" and has "strictly nothing to reproach himself for." Also questioned Tuesday were two one-time associates of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, adding a layer of political intrigue to the investigation of the hugely controversial decision to hold soccer's showcase tournament in a desert country so scorching hot in June and July that the matches will be played instead in November and December. As head of European soccer's governing body UEFA, Platini was the continent's top representative on the FIFA committee that picked Qatar in 2010. The closed-door, secret-ballot vote baffled many at the time, not least because the Persian Gulf nation has no soccer pedigree to speak of. But gas-rich Qatar is pouring billions into the world's most popular sport and has the means to finance new stadiums. Platini, 63, was taken into custody after being summoned to a French police anti-corruption and financial crimes office outside Paris, a judicial official told The Associated Press, confirming a report by online publication Mediapart. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity. French authorities did not announce any charges against the soccer legend or say exactly what he was being asked. He can be held for questioning for up to 48 hours, after which he can be either released or formally charged. It was the latest turn in a string of scandals in recent years that have brought down dozens of soccer officials from FIFA and other organizations over such offenses as vote-buying, kickbacks and bribery. French prosecutors are known to be investigating an array of winning bids for major sports events, including the 2018 World Cup, awarded to Russia, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and track and field world championships. Qatar beat the long-favored United States 14-8 when FIFA selected the host country for the 2022 World Cup. Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who presided over the vote, has accused Platini of backing out of a secret "gentleman's agreement" to award the tournament to the United States after meeting with Sarkozy, France's president at the time. Platini's representatives said he was taken into custody only for "technical reasons." His lawyer, William Bourdon, explained that police wanted to ensure that Platini and other witnesses couldn't confer with each other about their accounts. Also detained Tuesday was Sophie Dion, a former sports adviser in Sarkozy's administration, the judicial official said. She was released late in the evening. Claude Gueant, former secretary general of the Elysee presidential palace under Sarkozy, was questioned as a witness and not detained. French prosecutors previously questioned Blatter. Ahead of the FIFA vote, Sarkozy hosted a meeting in November 2010 that brought Platini together with Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, then the crown prince of Qatar and now its ruling emir. Al-Thani also owns the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain, and Sarkozy frequently attends its games. Platini has long insisted that the meeting did not influence his vote for Qatar less than two weeks later. "Sarkozy never asked me to vote for Qatar, but I knew what would be good," he told the AP in 2015. But in the same interview, he also said that he "might have told" American officials earlier that he was going to vote for the United States' bid. Blatter quoted Platini as saying ahead of the vote: "I am no longer in your picture because I have been told by the head of state that we should consider the situation of France." FIFA had no comment on Platini's detention and said it has made a "full commitment to cooperating with the authorities." As a player, Platini was one of the best ever, a creative midfielder who lit up the pitch for club and country. He helped France reach the World Cup semifinals in 1982 and 1986 and led his national team to the 1984 European Championship title. He also played club soccer for Nancy and Saint-Etienne before switching to Italian club Juventus. He won three straight Ballon d'Or titles as the best player in Europe while playing for Juventus from 1983 to 1985. Both Platini and Blatter were toppled from their positions at the top of soccer in 2015. Platini was banned by FIFA for financial misconduct in connection with a $2 million payment authorized by Blatter — a suspension set to expire in October. ___ AP Global Soccer Writer Rob Harris in Nice, France, and AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJun 19th, 2019

Former FIFA head Blatter: Sarkozy meeting key to Qatar vote

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press GENEVA (AP) — Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter says the arrest of soccer great Michel Platini as part of a French corruption probe lends weight to his version of how the United States lost the 2022 World Cup vote to Qatar. Blatter told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he has insisted for years that the result of the 2010 vote was swayed by a meeting in Paris two weeks earlier involving then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Platini and Qatar's future Emir. Blatter spoke hours after Platini, the former France midfielder who was the UEFA president at the time of the vote, was detained in Paris on Tuesday by French authorities who also questioned two former Sarkozy aides. "It's all detailed — what I always said," Blatter told the AP in a telephone interview from Zurich, citing the twobooks he has published since being banned by FIFA. Qatar beat the long-favored U.S. 14-8 in a final round of voting by a since-discredited FIFA executive committee. Most of the voters have since been banned by FIFA — including Blatter and Platini — indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice, or implicated elsewhere in financial wrongdoing. Two weeks ahead of the vote in Zurich, Platini had been hosted by Sarkozy at the French presidential residence, and met senior Qatari officials including then-crown prince Sheikh Tamim. According to Blatter, that Élysée Palace lunch changed the course of FIFA's plan to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 edition to the U.S. on the same day. "Platini phoned me and said, 'Listen, president, our gentlemen's agreement which we have made inside the FIFA executive committee will have difficulties to work,'" Blatter said Tuesday. In Blatter's version, Platini — who in 2015 acknowledged switching sides — and three other voters from European soccer body UEFA changed their planned American support. "It was four votes which have disappeared," he said. "If you change the four votes then the winner will be the USA." Platini has long insisted that the meeting did not influence his vote for Qatar less than two weeks later. "Sarkozy never asked me to vote for Qatar, but I knew what would be good," he told the AP in 2015. But, in the same interview, he also said that he "might have told" American officials earlier that he was going to vote for the United States' bid. On Tuesday, Platini's representatives denied any wrongdoing on his part, saying he is "absolutely confident in the future" and has "strictly nothing to reproach himself for." The 83-year-old Blatter, who is serving a six-year ban by the FIFA ethics committee, was interviewed as a potential witness by French investigators in Zurich in April 2017. On a day of intrigue for Blatter, the attorney general for Switzerland was recused from overseeing a sweeping criminal investigation of FIFA officials. The Swiss, French and American cases have shared information and evidence over the past five years, since the Blatter-led FIFA filed a complaint in 2014 about suspected money laundering in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests. Now, Switzerland's federal criminal court removed attorney general Michael Lauber from his department's case because of undeclared meetings with current FIFA president Gianni Infantino. The federal court says it upheld requests by two claimants it did not identify. "Now I get part of my trust and confidence in the Swiss justice back," said Blatter, who has been a criminal suspect since September 2015 but never charged. He denies wrongdoing in a case which ended his 18-year FIFA presidency, and asked Tuesday: "Why the hell is not all over yet?" Criminal proceedings against Blatter are among at least 25 opened by Lauber's federal prosecution team in the wider soccer probe. Lauber's job has been at risk since two 2016 meetings with Infantino were revealed last November in the Football Leaks series publishing confidential emails and documents from the soccer industry. A disciplinary case was opened against Lauber last month when an undeclared third meeting with Infantino in Bern in June 2017 was revealed. "This is an old story," Blatter said of the investigations against him, adding he is recovering from knee replacement surgery four weeks ago. "I do hope that the Lord will give me enough time to live and to have a look at the end of this story.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 19th, 2019

For US men, Gold Cup finally brings chance for revival

By Dave Campbell, Associated Press BLAINE, Minn. (AP) — The overarching goal for the fledgling U.S. men's soccer team, as frequently stated by new coach Gregg Berhalter, has been to improve the perception of this sputtering program within the cutthroat hierarchy of global soccer. Though a strong performance in the CONCACAF Gold Cup probably won't move the needle much, the Americans surely would benefit, simply, from winning. Their opening game against Guyana on Tuesday night at Allianz Field in St. Paul, the new home of Major League Soccer's Minnesota United, will mark the first competitive match for the U.S. since the infamous defeat at Trinidad and Tobago on Oct. 10, 2017, that kept the team for qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. It follows a stretch of 18 consecutive friendlies. "There will be some nerves, but for us it's just about continuing to make progress throughout this tournament," Berhalter said last week after a training session at the National Sports Center in Blaine, a suburb of Minneapolis. "I think part of our profession is playing under pressure, playing in big events, and this is a great opportunity for us to learn." The 20-month gap between competitive games is the longest for the Americans since a 38-month span following a loss to Costa Rica on May 31, 1985, their final qualifier for the 1986 World Cup. Their next match that counted was a draw at Jamaica on July 24, 1988, their first qualifier for the 1990 World Cup. The U.S. won the biennial Gold Cup in 2017, a sixth title in 14 editions of the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean. Mexico, the clear favorite, has won seven such crowns. Before any mental energy can be spent on assessing the ability to compete with their border rival to the south, though, the Americans, who are ranked 30th in the world, must advance from the group stage. On the surface, Panama (75th), Trinidad and Tobago (92nd) and Guyana (177th) don't appear to be daunting competition, but the way the U.S. team played this month in exhibition losses to Jamaica (1-0) and Venezuela (3-0) there will be no guarantees of automatic wins. The Americans are missing injured players DeAndre Yedlin, John Brooks and Tyler Adams, all first-choice starters. "If it doesn't go well you can just feel that more pressure is going to build, more questions will be asked, more scrutiny will be on Berhalter and the federation, and the outside noise is only going to get louder," said former U.S. midfielder Stu Holden, now a Fox analyst. "That's why it's really important that this team has a really good showing in this tournament." With the U.S. women leading their side of the world rankings and off to a dominant start this month in France at the Women's World Cup , the men's team won't be able to avoid the comparison game. The Americans can't mute the fan angst that has followed them for nearly two years, either, but they can at least take a meaningful step forward in the Berhalter era by displaying some potential within the pressing, possession-prioritized style he has rolled out . "We want to progress. Of course that also means winning the games, but we want to develop our style," midfielder Weston McKennie said. "Our goal is to make people see U.S. Soccer as something different as what they see now, probably." McKennie is one of the 20-year-old up-and-comers the program has staked itself to in the quest to not only return to the World Cup in 2022 but do some damage on the sport's biggest stage. The other, of course, is Christian Pulisic , who is joining English Premier League power Chelsea from Germany's Borussia Dortmund for a $73 million transfer fee. That is a record price for an American player. Veterans of the national side like Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley are still around, among just six holdovers from the roster that went to Trinidad. They are joined by Pulisic, defenders Omar Gonzalez and Tim Ream, and forward Paul Arriola on what has become a youngster's team. Getting this team in sync, socially and psychologically, might be just as important of a task for Berhalter as with the technical implementation of his system. "In warmups, they have to give each other high-fives," Berhalter said. "We do team events off the field, like going to movies together and going to restaurants together. I think that's really important to build that team chemistry." Now more than ever. "Everyone right now outside has their opinions about us, and the past couple of games, and that's perfectly fine," forward Paul Arriola said. "For us the message stays the game, and it's staying together as a team. That's how you're going to win an international tournament.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2019

US men also seek soccer title, face Mexico for Gold Cup

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — Remember the U.S. men's soccer team? It's also playing for a trophy on Sunday, taking on Mexico at Soldier Field in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean. Gone from the national sports consciousness since its October 2017 loss at Trinidad and Tobago ended a streak of seven straight World Cup appearances, the men's program is trying to regroup under new coach Gregg Berhalter. The American women play the Netherlands in France at 11 a.m. EDT, chasing their fourth world championship, and they are livid they have to share the spotlight with the Copa America final between host Brazil and Peru at 4 p.m. and the U.S. men seeking their seventh Gold Cup title at 9:15 p.m. "I look at it differently. I think that this is an opportunity to be Soccer Day in America," Berhalter said. "When you think about the opportunity for the women to win the World Cup in the morning and then you get to I think party for half the afternoon, then you get to take a little nap, and then you get up, you go to the game and you enjoy the final of Gold Cup." The men have outscored opponents 15-1 in five matches, while the women have a 24-3 advantage in six. "Our whole focus is on us," forward Jordan Morris said. "We're wishing them all the best, of course, and we want them to win the championship, as well, but we don't think about that too much, just really what we can do to come out and win our game." He would have preferred not to play on the same day. "Ideally I guess that would be great that they get their own focus being in a World Cup final and we'll get our own and Copa America gets their own," Morris said. The U.S. is 6-4 in Gold Cup finals, beating Mexico in 2007 and losing in 1993, '98, '09 and '11. The Americans won their only consecutive regional titles in 2005 under Bruce Arena and 2007 under Bob Bradley. Morris, whose 88th-minute goal lifted the U.S. over Jamaica in the 2017 final, is among six holdovers from that roster, joined by defenders Matt Miazga and Omar Gonzalez, midfielders Michael Bradley and Paul Arriola, and forward Jozy Altidore. Led by 20-year-midfielder Christian Pulisic, the U.S. is mostly a young team with a sprinkling of veterans and is testing 24-year-old goalkeeper Zack Steffen in a tournament for the first time. Pulisic, who reports to Chelsea next week, has enhanced his status as by far the top American player. "When I think about this month for him, it's been a lot of personal development," Berhalter said, "in terms of just him blossoming with his personality within the group, his importance to the team on the field. The skills haven't changed, right, from a month, but in terms of his role, what he's comfortable with, how he's embracing his role within the team and his role on and off the field, it's been really nice to see." The Gold Cup has been Berhalter's first extended time with his full player pool and the only lengthy one before World Cup qualifying starts next year. "I'm obviously super-excited for the challenge," Pulisic said. Neither team is at full strength. The U.S. is missing right-side starters DeAndre Yedlin and Tyler Adams, plus central defender John Brooks, all because of injuries. El Tri, in its first tournament under new coach Tata Martino, is going for its eighth Gold Cup title. It had a more onerous path to the final that included a penalty-kicks victory over Costa Rica and an extra-time win over Haiti. Mexico's roster has just five players who started the round-of-16 loss to Brazil at last year's World Cup: goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, defenders Edson Álvarez and Carlos Salcedo, and midfielders Andrés Guardado and Jesús Gallardo. Among the missing are all three forwards who started against the Selecao: Javier Hernández, Carlos Vela and Hirving Lozano. "We do miss these players," Martino said through a translator. "We play with the soccer players that respond to the call." U.S. players hope American fans are celebrating even before the kickoff, savoring a victory by the women over the Dutch. "Let's hope we both win the finals and make it a historical day in the history of American soccer," winger Tyler Boyd said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2019

Briton falls to death at 2022 Qatar World Cup stadium site

ROB HARRIS, AP Global Soccer Writer A British man fell to his death this week at a World Cup stadium building site in Qatar, where construction conditions have come under sharp scrutiny since the country was awarded the 2022 soccer tournament. The 40-year-old man has not been named by World Cup organizers or the company overseeing the building of the Khalifa International Stadium , which will also host the world track championships in 2019. The contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, said it was still working with local authorities to establish the cause of Thursday's death. br /> 'The fatal accident took place while the worker was on a suspended catwalk platform designed to manage technical functions relating to sound and light installations,' Midmac-Six Construct said in a statement Friday. 'For unknown reasons one of the lever hoists supporting the platform failed, causing the fall of the worker, who was wearing all his safety equipment, including the safety harness. br /> 'Sadly, the harness was cut during the fall with a fatal outcome. What caused the cut is subject to further investigation.' br /> The stadium, which was first built on the site in 1976, is next to the Aspire sports academy and is described by organizers as 'Qatar's most historic stadium.' br /> 'All parties concerned will carefully review the circumstances of the accident and commit to take any necessary measures that can prevent its recurrence,' Midmac-Six Construct said. br /> Qatar's World Cup organizing committee is also investigating the incident and said it 'shares our deepest condolences with the family for their loss.' br /> Qatar has previously announced the death of four stadium workers, with one fatality the result of a work-related accident. br /> The focus of the scrutiny has been on Qatar's use of a low-paid, migrant workforce to build the sites for the first World Cup in the Middle East, but the organizers are also relying on expertise from Europeans to oversee projects. br /> FIFA, which awarded the World Cup to Qatar in a 2010 vote, said it 'deeply regrets the loss of life' at the stadium. br /> 'It is with great sadness that we send our sincere condolences to the victim's family and colleagues,' FIFA said in a statement. br />   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 21st, 2017

Cristiano Ronaldo wins FIFA best player award for 4th time

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> ZURICH (AP) — Capping what he called the best year of his career, Cristiano Ronaldo won his fourth FIFA best player award on Monday. The double European champion with Portugal and Real Madrid beat great rival Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann to complete a sweep of top individual awards. 'It was a year that was magnificent at a personal level and at a sporting level,' the 31-year-old Ronaldo said in Portuguese in his acceptance speech, which he began by exclaiming 'Wow, wow, wow.' Ronaldo's fourth career FIFA award closed the gap on five-time winner Messi, who has been the runner-up to each Ronaldo victory. His 34.54 percent of total voting points in a 23-candidate ballot was clearly better than Messi's 26.42 percent. Griezmann got 7.53 percent. Voting was by national team captains and coaches, selected media, and fans online. Messi did not attend after being pulled out hours before the ceremony by his club Barcelona to prepare for a cup match on Wednesday. 'Of course, I wish that they (Barcelona players) had been here tonight like in the other years. We have to respect the decision,' Ronaldo said. Yet again, Ronaldo and Messi snubbed each other on ballot papers they got as captains of Portugal and Argentina. Ronaldo selected three Real Madrid teammates headed by Gareth Bale, and Messi picked Luis Suarez atop an all-Barcelona ballot. Ronaldo's 2016 trophy haul included the European Championship, Champions League, and Club World Cup, plus individual best player awards from UEFA and France Football magazine. 'I won a lot trophies, collective and individual, so I am proud,' said Ronaldo, adding he would send the inaugural silver FIFA Best trophy to the museum dedicated to his career on his home island, Madeira. Messi's Barcelona won the Spanish league and cup double in 2016, though Argentina lost another Copa America final. Griezmann's France and Atletico Madrid lost their finals to Ronaldo's teams. Ronaldo's mentors for club and country were beaten to the coaching award by Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri, who earned the prize for a stunning English Premier League title. 'What happened last year was something strange. The God of football said Leicester must win,' said Ranieri, who was in his first season at the unfashionable provincial club widely tipped for relegation. Ranieri rose from his seat and politely shook hands with his two opponents, Madrid's Zinedine Zidane and Portugal's Fernando Santos, plus their partners before heading to the stage. The 65-year-old Italian collected his trophy from Diego Maradona, who earlier Monday played in an exhibition match with other retired greats at FIFA headquarters. Carli Lloyd of the United States won a FIFA player prize for the second straight year, despite a quarterfinals exit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. With gold-medal winner Melanie Behringer of Germany in third place, Lloyd got more than 20 percent of the vote and five-time winner Marta of Brazil was runner-up with 16.6 percent. Behringer got 12.34 percent. 'I honestly was not expecting this,' Lloyd said. 'I know Melanie did fantastic in the Olympics.' Germany did win the women's coaching prize as Silvia Neid earned her second FIFA prize, after also winning the 2010 award. Neid beat two previous winners: last year's winner, Jill Ellis of the United States, and Pia Sundhage of Sweden, the Olympic silver medalist. The Puskas Award for best goal was won in an online poll by Mohd Faiz Subri, who scored with a wildly swerving long-range free kick for Malaysian club Penang. A players' vote organized by international union FIFPro gave a World XI of: Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich); Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona/Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid); Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid); Messi, Luis Suarez (Uruguay, Barcelona), Ronaldo. The First FIFA fan award was chosen by fans and was made to supporters of Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, who joined in singing the English club's anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before a Europa League quarterfinal. The other nominees were Iceland fans at Euro 2016, and Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord. FIFA made its Fair Play Award to Atletico Nacional, the Colombian club which was scheduled to host Chapecoense in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final on Nov. 30. After most of the Brazilian team died in a plane crash flying to the match, Atletico Nacional asked the South American soccer confederation to present the title and trophy to Chapecoense. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2017

Ronaldo favored to win his 4th FIFA award as world's best

GRAHAM DUNBAR, AP Sports Writer br /> Cristiano Ronaldo's remarkable run of success can continue with a fourth FIFA award as the world's best player on Monday. A European champion with club and country last year, the Real Madrid and Portugal forward is favored to beat great rival Lionel Messi and France forward Antoine Griezmann when winners of the rebranded Best FIFA Football Awards are presented in Zurich. Messi leads Ronaldo 5-3 in their career-long duel for FIFA's top individual prize. However, Ronaldo is set to complete a hat-trick of major awards for 2016 after taking home trophies presented by UEFA and France Football magazine's prestiguous Golden Ball. FIFA will also name the best women's player, and the best coaches in men's and women's soccer. Voting is by national team captains and coaches, selected journalists and — for the first time — an online poll of fans. Each category counts for 25 percent of the points. Here is a look ahead to the awards ceremony: ___ CRISTIANO RONALDO After Messi in 2015, it was Ronaldo's turn to win the Champions League in 2016 as the prolific scorer netted 16 goals in the competition. He also got the decisive penalty in a shootout after a 1-1 draw with Griezmann's Atletico Madrid. But where he really dominated Messi was on the national-team stage. Ronaldo captained Portugal to a long-awaited first title at the European Championship — two weeks after Messi's Argentina again lost the Copa America final to Chile. Portugal seemed a long way from glory, and faced a humiliating group-stage exit, before Ronaldo's two goals helped salvage a 3-3 draw with Hungary. He also netted in the 2-0 semifinal win against Wales. In the final against host France, Ronaldo went off injured in the first half, then returned to the bench for extra time as — with his knee strapped — he passionately urged teammates on to a 1-0 win. For good measure, Ronaldo scored a Club World Cup final hat trick against Kashima Antlers in December, but that was after FIFA voting had closed. ___ LIONEL MESSI Messi looks to extend a streak of being winner or runner-up in nine straight seasons since placing second behind Kaka of Brazil in 2007. Last year, Messi and won a Spanish league and Cup double with Barcelona. Yet there was another painful Copa America final loss — a third straight year Argentina lost a major final without scoring — and a Champions League quarterfinal exit against Atletico. Nearing his 30th birthday, Messi's prolific scoring rate has not slowed, and 10 goals in the Champions League group stage means that Ronaldo's season record of 17 — set in 2013-14 — is within his sight this year. ___ ANTOINE GRIEZMANN Griezmann's goals helped get France and Atletico Madrid into major finals in 2016. In the Champions League final in Milan, Atletico trailed 1-0 to its city rival when Griezmann missed with a penalty kick that struck the crossbar. Still, he confidently converted his kick in the penalty shootout. Griezmann's six goals at Euro 2016 made him the tournament top scorer. In a tricky round of 16 match, his two goals overturned an early Ireland lead, and he also struck twice — including a coolly taken penalty — against favored Germany in the semifinals. However, he missed two good chances in the final against Portugal as France 1-0 in extra time. ___ COACHING AWARD Could the coach of a provincial club side beat the men who coached European champions Real Madrid and Portugal? Yes, when that coach is Italian Claudio Ranieri and his team, unheralded Leicester City, won an English Premier League title that delighted and stunned fans worldwide. Zinedine Zidane started 2016 having never coached a senior match. The newly appointed Madrid coach won a Champions League title within five months and started 2017 riding a 37-match unbeaten run. Fernando Santos marshalled one of the less obviously talented Portugal teams of recent years to win Euro 2016 despite winning only one of its seven matches during the 90 minutes. ___ WOMEN'S AWARDS Germany's Olympic gold medal-winning team is favored to sweep the awards. Midfielder Melanie Behringer is challenging two past FIFA award winners: defending champion Carli Lloyd of the United States and five-time winner Marta of Brazil. All three coaching candidates are previous FIFA award winners: Silvia Neid of Germany, last year's winner Jill Ellis of the United States and Pia Sundhage of Sweden. ___ FIFA AWARDS FIFA has added a Fan Award to its annual ceremony, and all three candidates from an online poll are European. Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, whose fans sang You'll Never Walk Alone before a Europa League match at Anfield; Dutch club ADO Den Haag, whose fans brought soft toys to children supporting rival team Feyenoord; and the Iceland fans at Euro 2016 for their inspirational clapping salute to players after games. A fans' vote will also decide the Puskas Award for best goal. The candidates are: Marlone of Corinthians, Daniuska Rodriguez of the Venezuela women's Under-17 team, and Mohd Faiz Subri of Malaysian side Penang. FIFA will also present a Fair Play award, and members of the players' union FIFPro worldwide have voted to select a World XI team. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2017

Ryder Cup behind him, Jim Furyk still going strong

By Doug Ferguson, Associated Press PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland (AP) — Nothing short of an eagle on the 592-yard seventh hole at Royal Portrush was going to win the hole in a friendly fourballs match during practice for the British Open. Leave it to 49-year-old Jim Furyk to have the best chance. "Don't do anything crazy here," Patrick Cantlay, born the same year Furyk turned pro, said to his opponent. Furyk's 18-foot putt from below the hole paused on the right edge of the cup before dropping, and he looked over in Cantlay's direction with a grin. These are good times. Under the circumstances, not many people would have been surprised if Furyk was past his time by now. He was last seen at the British Open in 2016 at Royal Troon when he finished 29 shots behind the record performance of Henrik Stenson. Furyk played only two majors last year, both on exemptions. He wasn't eligible for any of the World Golf Championships last year for the first time since they were created in 1999. Small wonder that fans who recognized him in the airport on his way to Northern Ireland asked if he was playing. "I thought that was kind of funny," Furyk said. He has heard a lot of questions over the last decade that he found funny, if not irritating. One that still sticks with him was a writer who asked him 10 years ago if he feared the game was passing him by. "I wouldn't say it (ticked) me off, but I kind of chuckled," Furyk said Tuesday. "I said, 'Yeah, it's going to pass me by some day, but not now.' The next year, I had my best year and was player of the year." It's not just about age. Phil Mickelson is 49, born a month after Furyk, and he won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Mickelson is a special talent, with five majors and one of his 47 victories worldwide coming when he was still in college. Part of it is devoting nearly two years of his life as Ryder Cup captain, with players appointed in their late 40s toward the end of their careers. Most are rarely heard from again on a big stage, with one exception being Davis Love III — another power player — who won at age 51 during his second stint as captain. Furyk never had great length off the tee, and it stands out even more now. He is a pea shooter in an era of cannons. And he's still going strong. "So impressive," said Brooks Koepka, the No. 1 player in the world. "I've played with him a little bit. He really understands his game. And I think when you fully understand what you can and can't do is when you reach your maximum potential. He's doesn't have the big miss. He doesn't have really any weakness. He's very solid all throughout the bag. ... That probably won't be me when I'm 49, I can promise you that." Furyk was determined to press on after Europe won the Ryder Cup in France last fall. He was coping with a shoulder injury that no one paid much attention because there was more interest in his captain's picks. Now that's sorted out. He had every reason to go into ceremonial mode, especially with the PGA Tour Champions — golf's greatest mulligan — available to him next year. Instead, Furyk toiled in the offseason to find balance at home and work, to give himself the best chance to win. "You have to have a motivation and a drive and a hunger to still compete," Furyk said. "And as you get older, you run through different phases of your life. When I first came out on tour, golf was the most important thing in life. I got married, started a family, and the realization we're going to be empty-nesters in a few years has hit me." His daughter, a pole vaulter, will be a senior in high school. His son will be a sophomore. He wants to watch them compete. Furyk said he was pacing the field at the Florida state high school championship in May when she finished ninth. He's coming up on 50. He's short off the tee. And his time is stretched thin. It all changed in March when he tied for ninth in the Honda Classic to get in The Players Championship, and then was runner-up at the TPC Sawgrass, one shot behind Rory McIlroy. That got him into a World Golf Championship. He nearly made it into the Masters, but returning to the top 50 in the world put him in the next three majors. He now is No. 48 in the world, giving him another World Golf Championship next week. He is No. 36 in the FedEx Cup, and the Tour Championship is in sight. "I enjoy seeing the game change," Furyk said. "I don't want to be that old, crusty guy that says, 'Back when I was a kid, the game was different.' It was. The game is always changing. But the best players will always evolve. ... Right now, I'm trying to figure out how to keep adapting." And it keeps working. He is one year older than his world ranking. At his age, with his length, that's not a bad thing......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 17th, 2019

Trump congratulates US women s team on World Cup win

WASHINGTON, USA – US President Donald Trump on Sunday, July 7 (Monday, July 8, Philippine time) congratulated the US women's team for their FIFA World Cup victory , saying the country is "proud of you all." "Congratulations to the U.S. Women's Soccer Team on winning the World Cup! Great and exciting play," Trump tweeted. {source}.....»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 8th, 2019

About face: US routs Trinidad 6-0 in Gold Cup

By Tom Withers, Associated Press CLEVELAND (AP) — The only embarrassment and shame was felt on the other side. Two years later, the U.S. soccer team turned the tables on Trinidad and Tobago. Gyasi Zardes scored two goals in a three-minute span, Christian Pulisic added one during a five-goal barrage in the second half and the Americans unloaded on their nemesis in a 6-0 blowout in the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Saturday night, earning a small dose of revenge over the team that handed them a nightmarish loss in 2017. Aaron Long scored his first two international goals — one with his head, the other off his chest — and Paul Arriola scored as the U.S. tallied five times in 25 minutes while cruising to its second shutout this week and advancing to the quarterfinals in Philadelphia on June 30. It was the first matchup between the U.S. and Trinidad and Tobago since Oct. 10, 2017, when the Americans, needing only a tie to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, lost 2-1 to the Soca Warriors. The embarrassing defeat snapped a streak of seven straight World Cup appearances by the Americans and triggered a top-to-bottom overhaul of the men's program, which has operated in the imposing shadow of the powerful U.S. women, seeking their fourth world title in France. There would be no repeat performance by this revamped U.S. team, which is determined to win back global respect. "Every time we step on the field we want to make a statement," said Zardes, who just missed getting a third goal. "We're trying to change the way the world views American soccer." The Americans posted their most lopsided win since beating Honduras 6-0 in a World Cup qualifier on March 24, 2017, when Pulisic, who took over this game in the second half, also scored and had a pair of assists. But while much of the pre-game talk centered on the U.S. getting payback, the Americans insist they've put the past behind them. "For us, we advance to the next round," coach Gregg Berhalter said. "That's important. Our focus was to prepare for this game knowing that if we'd be able to go to the next round. That was the focus of the group. Trinidad was in our way." Not anymore. With the U.S. leading 1-0 on Long's goal in the 41st minute, Zardes scored from right in front shortly after U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen made a diving save to stop Trinidad from tying a match the Americans dominated. Michael Bradley chipped the ball from the left side to a charging Nick Lima, who headed the ball to Zardes in front. The American striker only had to guide it by Trinidad keeper Marvin Phillip in the 65th minute. Two minutes later, Zardes buried a hard shot from the left side for his 10th international goal and second two-goal game for the Americans. Zardes nearly completed a hat trick, but his low shot from up top in the 70th minute hit the left upright. Next up for the Americans is a matchup with Panama on Wednesday in Kansas City, Kansas. The Panamanians improved to 2-0 in Group D of the 16-team tournament with a 4-2 win over Guyana, also clinching a quarterfinal berth. On a picture-perfect night along the shores of Lake Erie, the American team controlled possession and tempo while thoroughly outplaying T&T, which was blanked 2-0 by Panama in its opening match and was eliminated. The Soca Warriors were content to sit back and let the U.S. attack, hoping to spring counters. They nearly connected in the 61st minute as Cordell Cato eluded three defenders on the right side and hit teammate Levi Garcia in stride. But Garcia's shot was high and wide, a close call that prompted a collective gasp from the U.S. faithful. "Big moment," Trinidad coach Dennis Lawrence said. "When you get in that position, you have to put that away." Lawrence was upset with how his team collapsed following the U.S. team's second goal. "How can you play so good for 65 minutes and then so awful for the last 25?" he said, repeating his postgame message to his players. "We have to learn to stand up and fight. We lost focus and we paid the price." Berhalter stuck with the same starting lineup he used in the opener over Guyana but gave the captain's arm band to Steffen for the first time. Bradley captained the Americans in the opening 4-0 win over Guyana. Long, who plays in the MLS for the New York Red Bulls, put the U.S. ahead off a beautiful feed from the left side by Pulisic. Shortly after the U.S. was awarded a free kick, the Americans kept pressing and maintained possession in Trinidad's half before Pulisic spotted Long inside the 6-yard-box and delivered an arching pass to the forward, who left his feet, connected and drove the ball past a sprawling Phillip. The score touched off a flag-waving celebration behind the goal by red-white-and blue clad U.S. fans, who have been anxiously awaiting their team's chance at some redemption. After a 20-month wait, they got a little......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2019

Copa America guests Japan, Qatar still in contention

By Eric Nunez, Associated Press PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — Copa America guest teams Japan and Qatar are still in contention as the last round of group stage matches begins, and some of their South American opponents aren't too pleased. Qatar and Japan, who met in the Asian Cup final in February, are in third place in their groups. The top two in each of the three groups qualifies for the quarterfinals but only the two best third-place finishers advance. If winless Argentina is prematurely eliminated, Group B rival Qatar could be responsible after being given entry to the Copa America to help preparations for the 2022 World Cup. Asian champion Qatar has so far drawn with Paraguay 2-2 and lost to Colombia 1-0. "We have come to compete, not to take pictures, even if we admire the players of the teams we are facing," Qatar's Spanish coach Felix Sanchez said on Saturday. "Our main goal is to evaluate ourselves in a tournament of this caliber, so demanding." Sanchez's team on Sunday has the chance to upset Lionel Messi's Argentina, which has only one point from two games. "It would be beautiful to qualify no matter if it is against a monster like Argentina," said Sanchez, whose contract was extended until 2022 after winning the Asian Cup. "It will be a great step, even though we know they are also trying to advance to the next stage." The Qataris have already been invited to return to next year's Copa, which is being hosted by Colombia and Argentina. Australia will be another guest side. Japan has brought an under-23 team to Brazil that is being groomed for the Tokyo Olympics next year. Japan was thrashed by Chile 4-0 but held favorite Uruguay to 2-2 after leading twice. On Monday the young Japanese can eliminate Ecuador to advance and, depending on other results, possibly face host Brazil in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel is particularly upset with Japan's decision to bring its Olympic team. "I do not agree that a guest like Japan gives due importance to its participation by coming with players that are mostly under 23," Dudamel said Saturday after Venezuela beat Bolivia 3-1 and qualified to the quarterfinals of Copa America. "I raise my voice and say Copa America needs to be only for South American teams," he added. "We have not seen South American teams be invited to the African Cup of Nations, tournaments in Europe... We have to respect the hierarchy that we have historically built." There is nothing unusual about guest teams being invited to the Copa America. Mexico, Costa Rica, United States, Jamaica, Honduras, Panama, Canada and Japan have all contested past editions. Mexico had the best result among those, reaching the final in 1993 and in 2001. Still, Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo said he doesn't like the idea of teams outside of the Americas being given slots. "Playing among all American teams, that is logic," Berizzo said after drawing Qatar. "We should think of a Copa America with Central and North Americas integrated. I never saw any European cup with South American teams. I strongly believe that Copa America needs to be played by American teams." Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said business was the main reason to invite teams to the Copa America. "We are few countries in South America to organize a tournament with 10 teams, even more so with four phases like in a World Cup," Tabarez said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2019

US defense will face greater challenges in knockout round

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press REIMS, France (AP) — Much of the attention on the United States rightly goes to its prolific offense, especially after that 13-goal game to open the Women's World Cup, but the team's defense has been predictably reliable so far in France. The defense has posted shutouts in the team's first three games, marking the first time the United States has not conceded a goal in the group stage at the tournament. The defending champions open the knockout round Monday against Spain. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher saw little action during the team's rout of Thailand in the opener, but matches against Chile and Sweden provided incrementally tougher tests. "To come away from group play with three shutouts, as a team defensively, I'm very proud of that," she said. "It's a goal that we have going into every game, especially as a back line, to keep clean sheets. We put a lot of time into team defending as well, all 11 players on the field are defending, and that cohesiveness is what helps bring that." The team's backline in France has shifted due to lineup changes and injuries. Veteran center back Becky Sauerbrunn was held out of the first game because of a minor injury, but came back against Chile when coach Jill Ellis rested players. Against Sweden, Ellis used the backline that is expected to start in the knockout phase, with Abby Dahlkemper alongside Sauerbrunn, Kelley O'Hara on the right and Crystal Dunn on the left. Dunn was especially effective against Sweden and in thwarting forward Sofia Jakobsson. The United States has seven clean sheets in its last eight World Cup matches — the exception being the two goals allowed in the team's 5-2 victory over Japan in the 2015 final. The United States went 540 minutes in Canada without conceding a goal, the longest streak in the tournament since Germany's record 679 scoreless minutes from 2003-11. Former goalkeeper Hope Solo allowed just three total goals and won her second straight Golden Glove as the tournament's top goalkeeper. The backline included Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg, Julie Johnston and Ali Krieger. Johnston, now Julie Ertz, has moved up into a role as a defensive midfielder in France. She sat out against Sweden because of a hip contusion but U.S. Soccer characterized the injury as minor. Krieger won a spot on the roster for this tournament because of her big-game experience after a long layoff from the team. Naeher has replaced Solo, considered one of the game's best goalkeepers ever. Solo was dismissed from the team following the 2016 Olympics. Brushing off the inevitable comparisons, Naeher has been steady in goal. "I've played with Alyssa since I was like 16 so I've known her for a really long time. It's awesome to see her step into this role because I've always known that she has the capacity and the talent to be the starting goalkeeper on this team. She's shown that," O'Hara said. "She, for me, provides a very calm consistency back there. She's also someone with steely nerves. I think she does a really good job of just putting on a game face." The United States is currently on a streak of 594 minutes since last conceding a goal. The last came in the 81st minute of a 5-3 victory over Australia in April. Echoing Naeher, Tobin Heath said the Americans have embraced team defense. "It's huge. It's a big part of what we're trying to do, both offensively and defensively. We always talk about this idea of 360 defending, where everybody's contributing," Heath said. "I think Alyssa's been fantastic. It's not easy, especially in the first two games to not face that many shots, and then to have a quality opponent like Sweden, to be on her game." If the top-ranked U.S. can get past No. 13 Spain, there's a possibility of a clash against hosts France in the quarterfinal in Paris. The fourth-ranked French, who scored seven goals in the group stage and conceded just one, face Brazil on Sunday. "I think this is the best team we've had, and we're so confident right now, we're so motivated to want to win and succeed," Krieger said. "We know what tools we have and what we need in order to break teams down and be successful in the final third. I think that's what we've showcased so far.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2019

Copa America guests still alive before final decisive games

By Eric Nunez, Associated Press PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — Both Copa America guests are still alive as the last round of group stage matches begins, a feature that doesn't seem to please some of their South American opponents. Qatar and Japan, who this year played in the Asian Cup final, are in third place in their groups. The top two in each group and the two best third-place finishers advance to the quarterfinals. If Argentina is prematurely eliminated, it will be because of Qataris with little international experience who are preparing for the 2022 World Cup. Japan sent to Brazil an under-23 team that is being groomed for the Tokyo Olympic Games next year. Asian champion Qatar has so far drawn with Paraguay 2-2 and lost to Colombia 1-0. "We have come to compete, not to take pictures, even if we admire the players of the teams we are facing," Qatar's Spanish coach Felix Sanchez said on Saturday. "Our main goal is to evaluate ourselves in a tournament of this caliber, so demanding." After winning the Asian Cup, Sanchez's contract was extended until the end of the next World Cup. On Sunday, his team will have the chance to upset Lionel Messi. "It would be beautiful to qualify no matter if it is against a monster like Argentina," Sanchez said. "It will be a great step, even though we know they are also trying to advance to the next stage." The Qataris have already been invited to return to next year's Copa, split between Colombia and Argentina. Australia will be a guest side in 2020. Japan was thrashed by Chile 4-0 but held favorite Uruguay to 2-2 after leading twice. On Monday the young Japanese can eliminate Ecuador to advance and, depending on other results, possibly face host Brazil in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The list of Copa America guests in past editions is long: Mexico, Costa Rica, United States, Jamaica, Honduras, Panama, Canada and Japan. Mexico had the best result among those, reaching the final in 1993 and in 2001. Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo said he doesn't like the idea of teams outside of the Americas such as Qatar and Japan playing the Copa America. "Playing among all American teams, that is logic," Berizzo said after drawing Qatar. "We should think of a Copa America with Central and North Americas integrated. I never saw any European cup with South American teams. I strongly believe that Copa America needs to be played by American teams." Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said business was the main reason to invite teams to the Copa America. "We are few countries in South America to organize a tournament with 10 teams, even more so with four phases like in a World Cup," Tabarez said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2019

FIFA makes penalty shootout rule change during World Cup

By Rob Harris, Associated Press VALENCIENNES, France (AP) — The debut of video review in women's soccer is causing confusion and has pushed FIFA to make a rule change heading into the knockout phase of the World Cup. FIFA received approval from the game's lawmaking body to suspend the rule that goalkeepers must be shown yellow cards for stepping off the goal-line during penalty shootouts. With video assistant referees able to keep a closer eye on infringements, FIFA feared more goalkeepers could be penalized — and sent off if it's a second booking with no substitute allowed during shootouts. But the penalty kick will still be retaken. The International Football Association Board granted the temporary dispensation on Friday which means goalkeepers can only be booked at the tournament for stepping off the line with both feet during a penalty kick in normal time. "The caution for a goalkeeper who commits an offense was introduced in the laws as a deterrent," FIFA refereeing chief Pierluigi Collina said in comments provided by the governing body. "But what better deterrent than the VAR? It's not possible that a goalkeeper moves both her feet off the goal line without being noticed. In addition we felt that the risk for a second caution was too high considering the number of penalties that are taken." Penalty kicks have already been retaken during the group stage because VAR has scrutinized goalkeepers' movements more closely. Argentina was facing elimination after missing a penalty kick but it was ordered to be retaken after a video review, and the team scored to clinch a 3-3 draw. That clinched third place in Group D and a place in the round of 16. "If a goalkeeper commits an offence like encroaching before the penalty kick is taken, the VAR cannot do anything but intervene and inform the referee that the penalty kick must be retaken and the goalkeeper cautioned," Collina said. "All the teams were duly informed at the beginning of March and goalkeepers had enough time to get used to it." But the law could be revisited at future meetings of IFAB, which includes four FIFA delegates and a representative from each of the four British associations. "After the end of the tournament the disciplinary sanction for offences committed by the goalkeeper at penalties might be further discussed within IFAB's panels," Collina said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2019

England beats Japan 2-0 to clinch top spot in Group D

By Daniella Matar, Associated Press NICE, France (AP) — For the first time since Bryan Robson, Peter Shilton and Glenn Hoddle, an England team finished a World Cup group stage with a 3-0 record. Ellen White scored both goals, and the Lionesses roared into the round of 16 with a 2-0 victory over Japan on Wednesday night to win the group. Phil Neville's England squad will play a third-place team on Sunday and with a victory would advance to a quarterfinal against Norway or Australia. The victory over Japan came after Neville made eight changes to the starting lineup. "Since Phil's come in he's changed different combinations of the squad and I think that's why this squad is so competitive and so great," White said. "We can change the squad and show that we can play together and we've got so many different combinations and styles and talented players and that's really important going into a tournament that's really long. "We can use all 23 players so that's exciting and it's just great to have such talented players that can perform on the biggest stage." Japan finished second with a 1-1-1 record and will play the Netherlands or Canada in the round of 16. The 30-year-old White scored in the 14th minute when she chipped the ball past goalkeeper Saki Kumagai after being sent clear by Georgia Stanway. White's third goal on the tournament came in the 84th minute following a through-ball by Karen Carney. White scored in the opening win over Scotland, then was dropped to the bench against Argentina. "We've just got to give him a headache," White said with a laugh, describing all the players pushing to start. "For us it's just about trying to perform and play well and he's got the hard job to do." Neville is likely to stick with his rotation policy for Sunday's match although he admitted he might not make as many changes. "It depends on what team we're playing," he said. "There are certain players who are our experts in certain games. We need to know which team we're playing, then decide how they play, how we're going to beat them and see the players which fit the profile the best. "That's what rotation is about. It's not about throwing 23 players into a hat and pulling out 11. We strategically plan each rotation. Sometimes if you make more than five, you suffer in the rhythm and the flow and I think we did that tonight." Trailing by a goal, Japan almost scored when substitute Yuika Sugasawa volleyed narrowly past the left post. "We managed to get through to the knockout stage, and the things we should do have been defined in our past matches," Japan coach Asako Takakura said. "We need to be very prepared for the next round.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 20th, 2019

Press isn t dwelling on past miss against Sweden

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press LE HAVRE, France (AP) — A devastating missed penalty kick by Christen Press in a loss at the Olympics could have been the lowest point of her career. Instead, it was a motivator and defining moment for the American forward. "I think when I look back on my career, all the moments that I'm most proud of have come after failure," she said. "That's the easiest one to point at and look at, and look at that clear failure, and then evaluate how I did in responding to it. "I think the strength that it takes to step back up and be courageous and let it go, and to continue to fight for your dreams and not let the outside noise affect what you're doing, I am very proud of that." The missed final penalty kick during a shootout against Sweden in the quarterfinals at the 2016 Rio Olympics helped eliminate the United States and a tearful Press was consoled by her teammates. It was the earliest Olympic exit for the Americans. As the United States prepared to face Sweden on Thursday at the Women's World Cup, Press said she's only watched pieces of that match. The Swedes — led then by former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage — bunkered in on defense against the Americans. Tied after three rounds in the shootout, Sweden captain Caroline Seger got past U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo before Press sailed the Americans' fifth penalty kick over the crossbar. Lisa Dahlkvist wrong-footed Solo to give Sweden the 4-3 shootout victory. Solo infamously called the Swedes "a bunch of cowards" after in alleging they played a defensive match to choke the Americans' chances. The rematch between the two teams is a highlight of four Thursday games in France, but the United States is not interested in dwelling on that defeat as it attempts to win a second consecutive Cup. "I think players and coaches are not focused on what was, we're focused on what will be," coach Jill Ellis said. "That's really where you have to be. You've got to look forward. That's the past." Press played for clubs in Sweden for two years from 2012-14 and again in 2018 between stints in the National Women's Soccer League. She came off the bench in the 13-0 rout of Thailand in the opener, but Press got the start as part of seven lineup changes for the 3-0 victory over Chile on Sunday. The United States has played Sweden six times in the group stage at the World Cup, including a 0-0 draw four years ago in Canada. The only meeting since the Olympics was a 1-0 U.S. win in a 2017 friendly at Goteborg. Press, playing in her second World Cup, admitted Thursday there might be a bit of revenge at play. "Despite the fact that it's been three years, you don't forget the taste in your mouth when you fail and when you lose in a world championship," Press said. "And I think there's a little bit of that that will definitely act as motivation.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 20th, 2019

Germany beats South Africa 4-0 to win World Cup group

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press MONTPELLIER, France (AP) — Germany is playing like a title contender, just at the right time. After seeing her team start the Women's World Cup with a pair of one-goal wins, Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg told her players to keep the game simple. Germany played to its status as the world's second-ranked side and one of the top challengers hoping to dethrone the United States, routing South Africa 4-0 on Monday to top Group B with a 3-0 record. The Germans will play a third-place team in the round of 16 instead of the possibility of an immediate matchup with the Americans. After Germany grinded out 1-0 wins over China and Spain, its offense broke out with three goals in the first half at Montpellier's Stade de la Mosson, matching its total in its previous five World Cup games combined. "I told my players that we should keep it simple," Voss-Tecklenburg said. "The players performed very well. They showed that football can really be very simple sometimes. ... There were moments within the match when we tried to go for the more difficult solution. That's something we can work on." Displaying a varied attack, Germany generated a constant stream of scoring opportunities and could have easily won by a bigger margin. Melanie Leupolz opened the scoring in the 14th minute with her first goal for Germany since the 2016 Olympics. Sara Däbritz doubled the lead in the 29th minute from a goal-keeping blunder, Alexandra Popp made it 3-0 in the 40th and Lina Magull added the final goal in the 58th. "I think we are ready for the round of 16," Däbritz said. "Our goal was to come in first, and we are really happy about that." South Africa was winless in group play and outscored 8-1. At 49th, South Africa had the lowest ranking of the 24 teams in the tournament. Spain finished Group B as runner-up after a 0-0 draw with China and advanced to the knockout stage for the first time. Spain will face the winner of Group F on Monday at Reims, and the United States would be the opponent with a victory or draw in its final group match against Sweden. Two-time tournament champion Germany has not lost a match in group play since falling to Sweden in 1995. "Germany has won tournaments that it started out with difficulties," Voss-Tecklenburg said. "It would be great to have the same this time. All the matches will be challenges, and I hope we will be able to meet them all." Germany didn't miss the playmaking of Dzsenifer Marozsan, who broke a toe in its opener. Voss-Tecklenburg said she couldn't guarantee the Lyon midfielder will be ready for the round of 16. Leupolz put Germany ahead when she was left all alone on the edge of the 6-yard box to deftly nod a corner kick into the far corner of the net. Däbritz made it 2-0 after a mistake by goalkeeper Andile Dlamini, who turned what appeared to be a poor German pass into a perfect assist. Left back Verena Schweers's cross looked like an easy grab for Dlamini, only for Dlamini to parry the ball right into the path of Däbritz, who got her second goal of the tournament. "We conceded poorly from a set piece and a second goal, as well, and were on our back foot from there," South Africa coach Desiree Ellis said. Germany boosted the lead to 3-0 with pure power. Popp, the team captain, jumped over her marker to drive home a header. Magull got the fourth goal when she rushed in to finish off a save by Dlamini, who did well to push a header by Marina Hegering off the post, only to see the ball bounce across the open goalmouth. Only Dlamini's sharp reflexes saved South Africa from a greater defeat. "We always knew it would be a challenge," Ellis said. "We are happy with the performance but not the result.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2019

Australia and Sam Kerr quiet the haters at the World Cup

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press Australia's path to the Women's World Cup was turbulent even before its upset loss in the opening round. That loss to Italy in stoppage time was a terrible start for a team that some consider one of the tournament favorites. The Matildas feature Sam Kerr, their back-flipping global superstar captain, and the forward has urged her teammates to tune out criticism that followed the loss to Italy. "Ah mate, It's just outside noise, we don't listen to the haters. Look at that performance coming back from the deep," Kerr said. "I love these girls, they're something else." Italy scored in stoppage time, an upset considered the surprise of the World Cup. But Australia beat Brazil 1-0 to earn a spot in the round of 16 and closes Group C play at Stade des Alpes in Grenoble, France against Jamaica on Tuesday. Kerr has been feisty since arriving at the World Cup and the openly gay player used Twitter this week to reveal a homophobic message she had received. Kerr has been with the national team since 2009 and has 32 goals in 79 games. But she hadn't scored in a World Cup until the opener when she put the Matildas in front of Italy with a goal in the 22nd minute. She celebrated by punching the corner flag in a tribute to Australian great Tim Cahill. But Barbara Bonasea scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner in stoppage time, to give Italy the win and stun Australia. The Italy loss was one Australia didn't need after months of controversy surrounding the team. The Australian federation dismissed coach Alen Stajcic in January after an internal review revealed a "toxic" team culture. Stajcic denied any issues. He was replaced by Ante Milicic, an assistant on Australia's men's team, who had just a half-dozen exhibition games to prepare with his new team. After the loss to Italy, Milicic suggested that his team would just have to advance "the hard way." Indeed, the match against Brazil wasn't easy. Australia fell behind two goals before rallying for a 3-2 victory on a controversial own goal. The Matildas became just the second team to win a World Cup match after going down two goals. Afterward, Milicic addressed the critics of the team, too. "The important thing is that we, as a staff, give these girls every opportunity to do well in this tournament," he said. "The outside noise stays out." Chloe Logarzo suggested it's characteristic of her nation to never quit, and to ignore their detractors. "The Australian mentality is to come out swinging," Logarzo said. "We like a good fight.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2019

Lloyd, a World Cup starter again, scores 2 as US beats Chile

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Carli Lloyd wasn't thrilled to open the Women's World Cup on the bench for the United States. She accepted the role, but made no secret she wanted to start. When the call came Sunday, Lloyd made it count with a pair of goals to lead the defending champions to a 3-0 victory over Chile. The win pushed the United States into the round of 16. Lloyd was the hero of the World Cup in Canada four years ago when she scored three goals in the final against Japan that gave the Americans their third World Cup title. But she was on the bench when the U.S. opened the tournament, even though she scored later as a substitute in the 13-0 victory over Thailand. "I know that my ability is there, I know this is my best version of me. I've just got to go out there and prove it," she said. "Whether that's coming off the bench and making an impact, whether that's starting and getting the opportunity, which I'm grateful for, I'm just trying to make the most of it. I want to win." Lloyd became the first player to score in six straight World Cup matches with her goal in the 11th minute. She added another on a header off a corner in the 35th for her 10th career World Cup goal, which moved her into third on the U.S. list behind Abby Wambach (14) and Michelle Akers (12). At 36, she became the oldest player to have a multi-goal game in the tournament. She nearly got another hat trick — which would have made her the first player with two in the World Cup — but her penalty kick in the 81st minute went wide left. "It's haunting me right now," Lloyd said. "Wasn't good enough." The score could have been worse for Chile without unshakable goalkeeper Christiane Endler, who finished with six saves and fended off a flurry of U.S. shots in the second half. Endler was named player of the match. "I love the balls coming towards me and being able to showcase my skills," she said through a translator. "Obviously it's difficult to maintain concentration. I think in the first half it was difficult for me to get into the game. I think the second half went better for me and in general for the team." The victory over Chile was more subdued than the U.S. team's record-breaking rout of Thailand. The Americans celebrated every goal even after the win was well in hand, and the display offended many who thought the champions should have shown more class. The controversy clouded the run-up to the match against Chile. Several of the American players reached out to their Thai counterparts following the match. Lloyd exchanged encouraging words and tweets with goalkeeper Sukanya Chor Charoenying, and FIFA posted an interview with Thailand's coach thanking the U.S. players for being professional and playing well. After such a rout, Jill Ellis made sweeping changes to the starting lineup against Chile, including a new front line with Lloyd, Christen Press and Mallory Pugh. Alex Morgan was moved to the bench along with Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath. Becky Sauerbrunn, who sat out the match against Thailand because of a minor quad injury, returned and anchored a backline that included 20-year-old Tierna Davidson, who was making her World Cup debut. Davidson is the youngest player to start for the United States in a World Cup since Tiffany Roberts against Norway in 1995. Chile made just one lineup change, starting midfielder Claudia Soto in place of Yanara Aedo. Chile lost its opener to Sweden 2-0, but Endler was solid in that game, too, keeping the Swedes out of the goal until 83rd minute. The second goal got past the 6-footer in stoppage time. Julie Ertz scored in the 26th minute with a header off a corner kick from Davidson that Endler got her hands on but couldn't stop. It was Ertz's first World Cup goal and came with her husband Zach Ertz, a tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles, looking on. Endler denied Lloyd another chance at the hat trick when she tipped the U.S. captain's shot over the net in the 72nd minute. Sweden also advanced out of Group F with a victory 5-1 victory over Thailand earlier Sunday in Nice. Japan, playing in Group D with England, also went through to the knockout stage because both the United States and Sweden won. Former Vice President Joe Biden was among the U.S. team's well-wishers before the sold-out game at Parc des Princes stadium. Biden, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, referenced the team's lawsuit against U.S. Soccer alleging gender discrimination and seeking equitable pay. "As we cheer them on in the World Cup, we must support their fight off the field for equal pay. In 2019, it's past time we close the pay gap and ensure women get paid as much as men," Biden tweeted. U.S. soccer maintains the two teams have different pay structures because of separate collective bargaining agreements. But for now, the players are concentrating on France and bringing home a fourth World Cup championship. The United States plays Sweden on Thursday to wrap up the group stage. It is the first meeting between the two teams since Sweden ousted the Americans from the quarterfinals at the 2016 Olympics. Chile wraps up the group with a match against Thailand on Thursday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

Lloyd s tiny golf clap delivers big message from US women

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Carli Lloyd had just scored on an 18-yard volley to put the United States ahead 11 minutes in against Chile. After leaping, pumping a fist and hugging teammate Lindsey Horan, she raised both hands chin high and made four tiny pitter-patter claps, the type seen more frequently at Pebble Beach than Parc des Princes. A message? You bet. I made a gif of @CarliLloyd’s celebration golf clap after her first goal in #USACHI because I needed this to exist for every time someone tone polices a #USWNT celebration. #USWNT #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/Sw7rUA3ID2 — Phil (@ALazyJellyfish) June 16, 2019 Easy wins and lots of goals are par for the course when it comes to the U.S. women's soccer team. "I can't take credit for it. I'm not sure if Lindsey is taking credit for it," Lloyd said after a 3-0 victory Sunday night advanced the U.S. to the round of 16. "She had told me if we score, that's what we're going to do so I just went along with it after I did my little celebration But it was fun. I think it made a statement on the sideline there. It was cool." A record-setting 13-0 rout of Thailand that opened the tournament for the Americans sparked a debate back home. Celebration had not been discussed this much since Kool & the Gang. Some cried poor sportsmanship. Others argued players shouldn't be asked to let up on soccer's biggest stage. All the harrumphing was heard across the Atlantic. "I guess we could have just passed it around the back for a million times, but that's boring. That's disrespectful to everyone: fans, ourselves" said 33-year-old Megan Rapinoe, the pink-haired veteran famous for running to a corner flag and screaming "Born in the USA" into a television microphone after goal against Colombia in the 2011 World Cup. "The only thing you ask of an athlete really is to put it all out there and do the best you can. It's not in our DNA ever." Coach Jill Ellis speculated Lloyd's inspiration was her spouse, professional golfer Brian Hollins. "I'm guessing it was a shout-out to her husband," Ellis said. Horan said Emily Sonnett, a 25-year-old defender at her first World Cup, suggested responses. Trolling critics was the goal. "We decided to do something different today," Horan said with an impish smile. "Handshakes were part of it. Golf clap was part of it." Only the standout play of goalkeeper Christiane Endler lowered the Americans' offensive output from Wonder Woman levels to the mere mundane. The U.S. peppered Chile with 26 shots to one for the South Americans, raising the U.S. margin to 65-3 over two matches that seemed more training than tests. Alyssa Naeher, the Americans' new World Cup goalkeeper, was noticeable only when an unmarked Carla Guerrero redirected Claudia Soto's free kick past her midway through the first half. Guerrero was called offside. More Americans were in the tournament-high crowd of 45,594 that filled Parc des Princes than walked around Sunday in Paris, Kentucky, or Texas. Quite different from the stands 21 years and one day earlier, when Germany beat the U.S. men 2-0 on the very same field in the Americans' 1998 World Cup opener on goals by Andreas Möller and Jürgen Klinsmann. Fans clad in red, white and blue jammed the Metro hours before kickoff, streaming on the No. 9 line at Trocadero, Republique and Richelieu-Drouot and emerging on at Porte de Saint-Cloud on the sunny afternoon. "We're in France, and yet we felt like we had a home game," said Lloyd, at 36-year-old the oldest woman with a multi-goal World Cup match. Despite their second easy win, the Americans maintained there was no reason to chill: Thailand is ranked 34th in the world and Chile is 39th. The Americans need a win or draw against No. 9 Sweden on Thursday in order to win the group. A victory likely means a second-round matchup against No. 13 Spain or No. 16 China, which would put the U.S. on track for a quarterfinal matchup against fourth-ranked France in Paris. Ellis would not speculate whether her team would be better off finishing second and winding up in the other half of the bracket. "There's a lot of grass to navigate between now and potential matchups," she said. "This game is a crazy game, and you have to bring it every single match." No team has won consecutive Women's World Cups since the event began in 1991, a reason for sangfroid. "We're climbing up a mountain now," Lloyd said, "and it's only going to get harder.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2019

Qatar building for 2022 World Cup on Copa America debut

By Mauricio Savarese, Associated Press RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — For 2022 World Cup host Qatar, every Copa America match will be like a final. Sunday's clash against Paraguay at the historic Maracana stadium is especially so because it is probably the team's best chance to pick up points in the tournament. Qatar's Spanish coach Felix Sanchez told journalists on Saturday his team will try to compete at a high level in all three group stage matches against Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay. He believes the first two are candidates to win the title, meaning the game against the Paraguayans represents the best chance for Asian Cup holder Qatar to register a victory. "It will be like a final," said Sanchez. "But it will be the same against Argentina and Colombia. These are all great footballing nations." Qatar, which is making its Copa America debut, lost a friendly against hosts Brazil 2-0 earlier this month. Brazil coach Tite said he was impressed with Qatar's defense, although the team's ball possession was not as good as it was in the Asian Cup. Paraguay is trying to rebuild under coach Eduardo Berizzo after failing to qualify for the last two World Cups. "It is a team that counters very well, that can adapt to different tactics. They have a great offense," Berizzo said of Qatar. Paraguay's coach, however, thinks his team is the favorite to win in Rio de Janeiro. "We need to reaffirm our identity," he said. Sanchez, who took over in July 2017 and had his contract extended to 2022 just before the Copa America, said matches like these will help the team reach a higher level before the World Cup. "We have to forget what happened in the UAE and focus here," the Spanish coach said, in a reference to the venue for his team's Asian Cup triumph. "For us to get there (2022) in good conditions, we have to play tournaments like this." Qatar captain Hassan Al-Haydos, who was taking selfies on the Maracana pitch before the press conference, agreed. "We are here to develop, to adapt and to grow," the striker said. "It is an honor to be in this tournament and to be in Brazil with so many other great teams." Next year Qatar will return for another Copa America in Argentina and Colombia. In 2021, the tiny nation will stage the Confederations Cup......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2019